There is nothing worse than having a warehouse of inventory in complete disarray. When your inventory rooms are unorganized, there’s a very good chance that items go missing, shipments aren’t dropped off in the right place and customers aren’t getting what they want on time. A well-run warehouse is imperative to the success of any business. Continue reading
Thermal printers are manufactured to generate crisp, clear images and text in high volume environments. Properly maintaining the printer is critical to ensuring that your printer continues to generate high quality images and text.
There are two main types of thermal printers.
- Direct thermal printers generate the desired printed image by heating coated thermal stock. A printhead is used to apply the heat in the desired shape for text or images, turning the paper black where heated.
- Thermal transfer printers print by melting a coating of thermal ink onto the paper. Here too, a printhead is used to apply heat to a thermal transfer ribbon, melting the ink in the desired pattern and depositing it onto the paper’s surface.
Maintenance of Thermal Printers
There are a number of factors that an impact the performance of your printer – humidity, dust, heat, wear on the printhead and printer components, and the quality of the thermal transfer ribbons and paper stock used when printing. It’s important to keep the printer’s environment as clean as possible and to use high quality supplies and materials for the best results.
The most critical element to ensure clear, high quality printing is the performance of the printhead. If it is dirty, clogged, worn or abraded, the quality of the printed product will degrade. Cleaning and maintaining the printhead will extend the useful life of the printhead, and your printer. And, as printheads are expensive, maintaining it and extending its useful life will result in cost savings for your operation. Some maintenance tips are:
- Clean the printer frequently to remove dust and residue from paper, foils, and the environment. It is recommended that the printer be cleaned two to three times a week in moderate use operations.
- Clean the printhead to remove ink residue, paper dust, or coating residue to prevent streaking and incomplete printing. Cleaning will also help prevent clogs which can permanently damage the printhead. Printheads should be cleaned when the thermal transfer ribbon or thermal transfer label roll is changed. As the printheads (and rollers) are fragile, you should avoid touching them anywhere expect on the edges and use only approved cleaners. The most common methods for cleaning printheads are using isopropyl alcohol wipes or swabs or cleaning cards.
- Isopropyl alcohol cleans the printhead, dissolving any residue without leaving residue from the cleaner. It’s important to make sure that the alcohol fully evaporates (dries) before using the printer.
- Cleaning cards clean the printhead and remove any build-up on the rollers. They should be used for periodic cleaning, as they can abrade the printheads and rollers, damaging them.
- Some thermal transfer ribbons have built-in printhead cleaners, providing continuous cleaning and maintenance for the printhead.
- Replace printheads that have become worn or abraded.
Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations for your printer, including regular preventative maintenance. Periodic inspections of the equipment can identify potential issues before they become problems and can minimize downtime while reducing the cost of repairs and service and, most importantly, extending the life of your thermal printer.
Blanco Labels carries a supply of printheads, thermal transfer ribbons, and labels for a wide range of thermal transfer and direct thermal printers. We are known for the quality of the printer supplies we carry and our stock and custom labels for thermal printers. Our customer service representatives are available to help you with your labels and printer needs – and to ensure that we meet or exceed your expectations.
Today’s labels are manufactured using a range of adhesives to provide the level of adhesion required by the application – whether it is to keep the label attached permanently, such as a safety label or product label for a bottle or jar, or a label designed to be removed after purchase, such as a label for kitchen and bath products. Removing these labels and the underlying adhesive completely requires care to ensure that you do not damage the surface material or, if needed, the label itself.
The key elements to consider when removing a label are:
- Label material
- Surface material
- Type and strength of the adhesive used to apply the label
- Whether you are interested in preserving the label
Industrial Label Removal
Laboratories, bottling plants, and processing plants need to remove labels from reusable glass, plastic, and metal containers. High volume label strippers remove the label and adhesive in one process using air-cushioned blades. These machines are custom-designed for the surface material and the level of adhesion of the labels, removing the label and adhesive completely while protecting the surface material.
Label removers designed for recycling processes use friction to remove labels. These machines can handle a range of labels, from wraparound labels with spot adhesive to single labels with full adhesion. These machines are engineered to fully remove the label and adhesive without the need to protect the surface material.
Small Volume and Personal-Use Label Removal
Soaking the label
The easiest way to remove a label is to soak the bottle, jar, or product in hot water. This will loosen the adhesive and the label can be removed. Adding ammonia or other solvent to help dissolve the adhesive can speed the process. This method can be used for most surface materials. Soaking may damage the label, so if you are interested in preserving the label, this is not the best method of removal.
Label Remover Applications
If you are interested in protecting the label during removal, the best solution is to use a label remover application. These applications are easy to use and provide maximum protection for the label itself. A label remover application kit contains clear plastic sheets coated with an adhesive remover on one side. The plastic sheet is applied to the label, allowing the remover to dissolve the adhesive. The plastic adheres to the label, protecting it during removal and allowing you to peel the label off intact.
- The plastic can be left on the label for a period of time if the adhesive is strong
This method is used mainly for glass surfaces.
Many label collectors use this method to remove labels, as it not only keeps the label intact, but also helps to preserve the colors and patterns of the label.
Solvent-based label removers
Solvent-based removers break down the adhesive so the label can be removed completely. Available in liquid or aerosol form, solvents provide fast removal and are useful for removal of older adhesives. Special formulations are designed to protect metal and plastic surface materials, allowing the container to be reused. Solvent-based removers generally do not protect the label.
Steam label removal
Steam can be used to remove labels from glass, metal, and plastic surfaces. The steam dissolves the adhesive, making the label easy to remove. If the steam is applied carefully, the label can be preserved. Alcohol or a solvent can be added to the steam to help dissolve the adhesive.
Blanco Labels offers both stock and custom labels to meet the needs of customers from small specialty orders to full production runs for manufacturers. Our modern printing facility has the capabilities to manufacture full-color labels that meet your exact specifications. Blanco is known for the quality of our labels and our superior customer service – ensuring that every project meets or exceeds your expectations.
With today’s adhesives, labels can be manufactured to provide permanent adhesion when applied or allow the label to be removed and, if needed, reapplied. When determining which type of label to use, it’s important to understand the uses and benefits of each.
Both permanent and removable labels can be produced using direct thermal, thermal transfer, laser, and inkjet printers, with clear, sharp images. They are available in semi-gloss, high-gloss, and matte finishes.
All adhesive labels are pressure sensitive, and both permanent and removable labels will perform better if properly applied.
- Apply the labels firmly and be sure to apply pressure over the entire label surface. Using a roller to apply pressure evenly over the label surface will ensure a secure bond.
- Apply labels to a clean, dry surface. Moist surfaces interfere with the adhesion and the label will not bond with the surface. If your surface is dusty or dirty, the label will adhere to the dust or dirt particles, not the surface of your product.
Designed for a one-time application, permanent labels use a strong adhesive that creates a strong, or permanent, bond between the label and the surface. The degree of “permanence” is determined by a combination of the adhesive, face material, surface application, environment, and time. The adhesive used for the label should provide the peel, tack, and shear required to provide a secure bond to the surface material while accommodating the environmental conditions for the application, such as resistance to heat, cold, moisture, chemicals, and solvents.
Most stock labels used a permanent adhesive.
If permanent labels are removed, they will leave an adhesive residue on the surface, may pull or tear the surface during removal, and the label itself may tear, leaving pieces of the label on the surface. This is commonly experienced when removing permanent labels from bottles – adhesive is left on the surface or the label cannot be completely removed, or removing a label from a box or carton – the surface of the cardboard is removed with the label.
No label is completely permanent, and time will diminish the effectiveness of the adhesive, as will moisture.
Permanent labels are used for applications that require a secure, one-time label such as:
- Shipping labels
- Box labels
- Container labels
- Bottle labels
- Packaging labels
- Envelope labels
- Identification labels
- Long term and permanent storage labels
- Safety labels & tags
- Equipment labels & tags
- Specimen and laboratory labels
Removable labels use specialized adhesives that provide a secure bond to the surface material yet allow the label to be removed without leaving adhesive residue, damaging the surface, or tearing the label. With the range of adhesives available today, removable labels can offer light provide light, temporary bonds to those that can withstand the rigors of shipping or product labeling and still be easy to remove without leaving residue or causing damage. In addition, some labels can be removed and re-used. Removable labels are more expensive than permanent labels.
Removable labels can be used with most surface materials. The adhesive used for the label should provide the peel, tack, and shear required to provide the adhesive bond to the surface material that meets the application requirements. Rougher surfaces allow for easier removal of the label, but do not allow for as secure a bond as smoother surfaces. In addition, most removable labels do not perform well in applications with exposure to moisture, heat, cold, or corrosive materials.
Over time, the adhesive used for removable labels begins to act more like a permanent adhesive and the label can become difficult to remove. It is important that the adhesive used provide easy removal for the period of time required for your application.
The applications for removable labels range from labeling office folders to attaching “use-now” coupons to retail products. Some of these applications include:
- Masking tapes
- Office labels
- Inventory labels
- Retail product & bottle labels & coupons
- Laboratory & sample labels
- Temporary equipment labels
- Labels for reusable containers and cartons
- Packing slips and shipping labels
Blanco Labels offers a wide selection of permanent and removable labels.
- Removable thermal transfer labels sized 4” x 6” with a 3” or 1” core
- Permanent labels for direct thermal printing, laser printing, and inkjet printing. Laser and inkjet labels are available in widths from 2 5/8” to 8 1/2" and lengths from 1” to 10 7/8”. Direct thermal and thermal transfer labels are 4” x 6” with a 3” or 1” core.
- Permanent cold temperature direct thermal labels using high quality top coated paper with a moisture barrier designed to be applied at below-freezing temperatures.
- Finishes include semi-gloss, high-gloss, and matte finishes. Clear, color, and weatherproof labels are available.
- Blanco’s labels are designed to be used in most printers.
For detailed information, see thermal transfer labels, direct thermal labels, and inkjet and laser labels.
Blanco is known for the quality of our labels and our superior customer service – ensuring that your labels will meet your requirements.
Inkjet and laser printers offer printing solutions for small volume printing. They provide good quality printing and are most often used for low-volume office and personal use.
Inkjet Printers & Labels
Inkjet printers print by spraying ink onto the paper or other media. The ink is absorbed into the media to produce the type or images desired, requiring slightly porous media for best results. Due to the porosity of the media, the ink spreads slightly, resulting in a slight feathering at the edges. Inkjet printing does not produce images with sharp edges.
- Smooth (bright) paper is the best media and coated papers allow for sharper images
- Non-porous media, such as metallic and polyester papers or labels, do not absorb the ink and will smear
Inkjet printers are slow. The costs of inkjet printers may be lower initially, but the ink cartridges can be expensive.
Laser Printers & Labels
Laser printers use toner – electrically charged powder – to print the type or images required. A laser passes over a drum in the printer, creating a static charge on the drum that attracts the toner, coating the drum in the desired type or image. Paper is passed around the toner-covered drum and then through a heated fuser that bonds the toner to the paper.
- Laser-printed images are clear, with sharp edges
- All types of media, paper, and labels can be used
Laser printers are faster than inkjet printers and can handle larger volumes.
Inkjet vs Laser Labels
Most general purpose paper and coated labels can be used in both inkjet and laser printers. Laser printers also use clear, color, metallic, and weatherproof (polyester) labels. Blanco Labels offers a full line of labels for inkjet and laser printing.
- General purpose paper labels are available for inkjet and laser labels, including semi-gloss, high-gloss, and matte finishes
- Clear, color, and weatherproof labels are available for laser printers
- Label widths from 2 5/8” to 8 1/2" and lengths from 1” to 10 7/8”
- Avery compatible sizes and media for label sheets
Blanco’s labels are designed to be used in HP®, Canon®, Epson®, Xerox®, Apple®, and other inkjet and laser printers. We manufacture matte, semi-gloss, and high-gloss labels for use in LX200, LX400, LX800/810, and LX900 Primera printers and other inkjet printers that use roll labels.
We also offer ink and laser cartridges to be used in Primera printers and most inkjet and laser printers.
Blanco is known for the quality of our labels and our superior customer service – ensuring that your labels will meet your requirements and print easily with your printer.
Direct Thermal Printers
Direct thermal printers use heat-sensitive, chemically treated paper or media that turns black when it is exposed to a thermal printhead. The type or image is printed directly onto the paper or media. Direct thermal printers are easy to use and less expensive to operate than most other printers. However, since the media turns black when exposed to heat, the printer does not print in color. Direct thermal printers do not use ink, toner, or ribbon.
The images produced are sharp, with precise edges. Direct thermal printers are used for a wide range of applications, including shipping labels, ID bracelets, event tickets, name tags, and parking tickets. The printed material is more sensitive to light, heat, and abrasion than printed material from thermal transfer printing and is not used for lifetime identification or extreme environment applications. Direct thermal printers are also used for privacy-related and medical printing because they do not use ribbons, which can retain sensitive information.
Labels used for direct thermal printers are coated to react to the thermal printhead. The labels may be additionally coated for waterproofing and chemical resistance.
Thermal Transfer Printers
Thermal transfer printers use a heated ribbon to print the type or image on the paper or media. The ribbon is coated with ink that melts when exposed to the thermal printhead, forming the type or image. The ink is absorbed into the material, becoming part of the material. Thermal printers can be used with a wide variety of materials, including paper, polyester, and polypropylene and use specialty adhesive backing. The use of thermal transfer printer ribbons allows for color printing.
The printed images are precise, meeting tight tolerances and are durable and long-lasting. They can withstand extreme temperatures, ultraviolet exposure, chemicals, and sterilization. Thermal transfer-printed materials are used for lifetime identification applications, such as barcodes, asset tags, archival labels, circuit board tracking, certification labels, lab specimens, chemical and pharmaceutical labeling, safety labels, and equipment labels.
Labels used for thermal transfer printers need to be matched with the type or ribbon used to provide the best printed result.
Choosing the right label
Choosing the correct label for a direct thermal or thermal transfer printer requires matching your application requirements and the capabilities of your printer.
- Match the labels with the print speed to ensure a clear, clean result
- Choose a high quality paper or media so that the media will perform well in the application environment. For example, paper labels will perform well for tickets, but not for equipment labels in processing environments
Blanco Labels manufactures high quality direct thermal and thermal transfer labels. Our labels are manufactured with high quality paper and a general purpose permanent adhesive.
- Roll labels have a 3” core with an 8” overall diameter. Most sizes are also available with a 1” core and 4” overall diameter
- Rolls are perforated between labels
- Labels are wound out
- Color and weatherproof thermal transfer labels are available
- Designed to fit most thermal printers, including Zebra, Sato, Fargo, Intermec, Datamax, and others
- Custom sizes, adhesives, and core sizes are available
- Full line of thermal transfer printer ribbons
Blanco is known for the quality of our labels and our superior customer service – ensuring that your labels will meet your requirements and print easily with your printer.